Michael Barone’s last line will leave a mark

March 21, 2014
"Train wreck"

“Train wreck”

Writing in The Washington Examiner on Hispanics and Obamacare, political analyst Michael Barone notes the precipitous decline in support among the group for the ACA (from 61% in favor to 47% since September, 2013). He then wonders if this experience will sour Hispanics on big government overall, thus threatening their majority allegiance to the Democratic Party. His closing is quiet, but brutal:

I think that Obamacare may be discrediting Big Government generally among Hispanic voters. They may have assumed that government in the United States was competent and functional. They have been finding out that Obamacare has been about as competent and functional as government in Mexico.

Ouch! That’s going to leave a mark. smiley black eye

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


The “Being There” president

June 26, 2011

It’s been common on the Right to compare President Obama to another awful president, Jimmy Carter (indeed, Glenn Reynolds famously said that’s a best-case scenario). The Left (and some on the Right) instead compared him to FDR or Kennedy — and even God.

Michael Barone sees another similarity, one that’s amusing because, on reflection, it seems so apt: Obama as Chauncey Gardiner, the passive little man from the book and movie “Being There,” whom everyone thought was brilliant, but just “liked to watch:”

As you may remember, Gardiner is a clueless gardener who is mistaken for a Washington eminence and becomes a presidential adviser. Asked if you can stimulate growth through temporary incentives, Gardiner says, “As long as the roots are not severed, all is well and all will be well in the garden.” “First comes the spring and summer,” he explains, “but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.” The president is awed as Gardiner sums up, “There will be growth in the spring.”

Kind of reminds you of Obama’s approach to the federal budget, doesn’t it?

In preparing his February budget, Obama totally ignored the recommendations of his own fiscal commission headed by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson. Others noticed: The Senate rejected the initial budget by a vote of 97-0.

Then, speaking in April at George Washington University, Obama said he was presenting a new budget with $4 trillion in long-term spending cuts. But there were no specifics.

Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf was asked last week if the CBO had prepared estimates of this budget. “We don’t estimate speeches,” Elmendorf, a Democrat, explained. “We need much more specificity than was provided in that speech for us to do our analysis.”

Evidently “first we have the spring and summer” was not enough.

Read it all, as Barone finds more evidence of “Chauncey-ism” in Obama’s approach to governing.

Of course, while I said it was amusing and I did enjoy both the book and the movie, Obama’s passive, detached style is absolutely what the nation does not need when it faces such daunting problems at home and abroad. We need a president who’s actively involved, not one who’s content “being there.”

Unfortunately, we have to wait until at least November, 2012, to find that person.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Why the Democratic Party-Union relationship is corrupt

February 24, 2011

Michael Barone nails it — it’s a kickback scheme:

Public unions force taxpayers to fund Democrats

Everyone has priorities. During the past week Barack Obama has found no time to condemn the attacks that Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi has launched on the Libyan people.

But he did find time to be interviewed by a Wisconsin television station and weigh in on the dispute between Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the state’s public employee unions. Walker was staging “an assault on unions,” he said, and added that “public employee unions make enormous contributions to our states and our citizens.”

Enormous contributions, yes — to the Democratic Party and the Obama campaign. Unions, most of whose members are public employees, gave Democrats some $400 million in the 2008 election cycle. The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the biggest public employee union, gave Democrats $90 million in the 2010 cycle.

Follow the money, Washington reporters like to say. The money in this case comes from taxpayers, present and future, who are the source of every penny of dues paid to public employee unions, who in turn spend much of that money on politics, almost all of it for Democrats. In effect, public employee unions are a mechanism by which every taxpayer is forced to fund the Democratic Party.

So, just as the president complained in his 2010 State of the Union address about a Supreme Court decision that he feared would increase the flow of money to Republicans, he also found time to complain about a proposed state law that could reduce the flow of money to Democrats.

Emphases added. How is this any different in any real sense from a supplier winning an order from a business and then kicking back a portion to the manager who awarded the contract? In the real world, this kind of garbage would land both parties in court.

Barone makes a couple of other points worth noting: the first is that Wisconsin (and now Ohio and Indiana) is not the opening battlefield of this fight. In 2005, with California already facing serious budget problems, the Governator had four propositions placed on the ballot for a special election. Three of them, as I recall, dealt with some aspect of union/pension reform. The unions, particularly the teachers union (sound familiar?) and the leftist nurses union, spent $100 million dollars in a successful effort to defeat all four measures. Oh, and that money was all supplied by taxpayers in the form of dues, regardless of their own preference.

(For the record, it was the 2005 special election that, in my opinion, broke Schwarzenegger’s governorship. He never recovered the influence and initiative he had at that point, and increasingly “went along to get along” with our progressive legislature. It wasn’t until 2009-2010 that he recovered enough political strength to take on pensions again, scoring a significant victory that went largely unnoticed. See Tim Cavamaugh’s “Farewell, My Lovely.”)

Barone also takes on the argument Obama made that unions have made “enormous contributions” to our economy and society by asking pointedly, “what contributions?”  What studies show the benefits of strong public unions compared to states without them? Indeed, as he points out:

Their incentives are to increase the cost of government and reduce down toward zero the accountability of public employees — both contrary to the interests of taxpaying citizens.

Which is why the corrupt mutual-patronage scheme the Democrats and the public employee unions have going has to end. For the good of all taxpayers and the fiscal health of our municipalities, states, and nation, let’s hope Governor Walker is more successful than Governor Schwarzenegger.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


As unions go, population goes the other way?

January 25, 2011

Writing in the Washington Examiner, Michael Barone mines data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and notes an interesting trend: in states with high union membership, the state’s population grows slowly or declines. The opposite is true in other states. Have a look at this graphic:

Barone refrains from speculating, but I think there are a couple of plausible observations one can make from this. First, the data indicates that people are reluctant to move to (or are fleeing from) states with mandatory union membership for workers, high taxes, and a regulatory environment that’s hostile to business. Not necessarily for themselves (except in the case of taxes), but because companies are moving to friendlier environments, such as the states in the lower half of the chart, and thus people are moving where the jobs are.

But what about California, which seems to buck the trend with double-digit population growth and one of the most anti-business climates in the nation? This is sheer guesswork on my part, but I think it is evidence of how powerful California has been both economically and as a magnet for people looking for a better life. Starting with the Gold Rush and then the first land boom in the 1880s, and especially after World War II, this state was “the place to be.” A great climate and beautiful scenery, a seemingly endless array of affordable new housing, an economy growing fast in almost any sector you could imagine… It’s no wonder that, by 2008, ours was the 9th-largest economy in the world.

And there you have your reason. It takes time to kill a giant, even though we have been doing our darnedest to do just that for the last 20 years, as has, in recent times, the federal government. Inertia is tough to overcome. (Newton’s first law apparently applies to states, too.) While other factors are at play besides unions and their attendant power, the grip public unions have over California’s finances is a major part of our problems. If we don’t solve them, expect to see that rate of population growth slow to single digits or even go negative in the next census.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Americans to bossy government: “Shut up and go away!”

October 24, 2010

Michael Barone looks at the President’s recent theory of why his party is about to get an unholy beating at the polls next month and offers his own three theses: First is that the Progressive theory of History, that it inevitably moves leftward and toward bigger government is demonstrably untrue. After the vast expansions of government under Wilson and FDR (and statist Republicans like Nixon), for example, there were corresponding periods of moving toward deregulation.

Second is the realization among most Americans (if not left-liberals) that government that grows too large becomes a danger to the real engine of wealth creation, the private sector. The electorate is drawing a connection between the anemic job creation numbers in most of the nation (except Texas) and the statist, interventionist, regulation-happy policies of the (Social) Democrats, and they’re moving to correct things.

The third reason, the one perhaps that’s felt most viscerally, is that voters are becoming sick and tired of being bossed around by government and are going to remind the “public servants” just who the boss is here:

Voters who have learned to navigate their way through life may not believe that they need Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to set the terms and conditions of their health insurance policies, as Obamacare authorizes her to do. “Don’t tread on me,” read the flags at Tea Party rallies. That’s not a contradiction of “facts and science.” It’s an insistence that the Obama Democrats’ policies would strangle freedoms and choke off growth. You may disagree. But if so, it looks like you’re in the minority this year.

Call it a revolt against the nanny state or a revival of Americans’ traditional suspicion of government, but it looks like “Get out of my face!” is one of the big messages the voters are sending to Washington this year.

LINKS: I wrote about the President’s comments a few days ago. At Big Government, Robert Bonelli looks at what’s at stake in the midterms and asks “Are we citizens or subjects?

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)


Obama: an impotent thug

June 21, 2010

Michael Barone coined the terms “thugocracy” and “gangster government” for the Obama style of governance. He should know, being from the Chicago area, himself. He returns to that theme in an article in today’s Washington Examiner, observing that, for a thug president steeped in the Chicago Way, Obama is pretty darned ineffective:

Thuggery is unattractive. Ineffective thuggery even more so. Which may be one reason so many Americans have been reacting negatively to the response of Barack Obama and his administration to BP’s Gulf oil spill.

Take Interior Secretary Ken Salazar’s remark that he would keep his “boot on the neck” of BP, which brings to mind George Orwell’s definition of totalitarianism as “a boot stamping on a human face — forever.” Except that Salazar’s boot hasn’t gotten much in the way of results yet.

Barone then goes through several examples related to the Gulf oil spill to show that Obama’s strong-arm tactics haven’t done a thing to clean up the Gulf, though they have damaged the rule of law and shown that the “professor of constitutional law” is more comfortable with “Boss” politics than, well, acting within the constitutional limits of his office.

Be sure to read the whole article; Barone concludes with a hit that’s sure to leave a mark on our thin-skinned president’s hide.

RELATED: I’ve written before about the thuggish nature of Obama’s politics, notably with regard to free speech.


Barone: Top 5 lessons from yesterday’s elections

May 19, 2010

Several primary and special elections were held yesterday, and almost all of them were looked at as potential omens for the November midterms. At the Washington Examiner, Michael Barone looks at these races and offers five lessons. Here’s one, be sure to click through to read the rest:

Three. The unambiguous 53%-44% victory of Democrat Mark Critz over Republican Tim Burns in the Pennsylvania 12 special election should be a caution to Republicans.

Lesson: anti-Obama sentiment will not automatically be transformed into votes for Republican candidates. Critz carried by solid margins the district’s portions of Fayette and Greene Counties, steel-and-coal areas ancestrally Democratic areas that voted (narrowly) for John McCain in November 2008. Ditto Cambria County, Critz’s home base and that of the late 36-year incumbent John Murtha for whom Critz was a staffer, which gave Obama a very narrow margin.

Critz was helped by his conservative stands on health care, guns and cap-and-trade, he was helped by the refusal of 2008 Republican nominee and primary contender Bill Russell’s refusal to endorse Burns, and he was helped by the fact that there was a serious statewide contest in the Democratic primary but not in the Republican primary. But in November 2008 a lot of registered Democrats here voted Republican. In May 2010 a smaller proportion of registered Democrats did so. It’s true that Republicans don’t need Pennsylvania 12 for a House majority; it’s about number 60 on their list and they need 40 seats. But Republican strategists shouldn’t believe their election night spin. This was a loss.

Personally, the fact that PA-12 kept reelecting a disgusting corruptionist such as Murtha and then elected his toady to take his place tells me there’s something deeply wrong in that district, whatever the weaknesses of Mr. Burns. If they were to consider secession, I might not object.

Barone’s right, however, that this was a loss. However, I think several things mitigate it a bit: aside from the intensity among Democrats generated by the Specter-Sestak primary (and thank you, Joe, for sending Benedict Arlen home) and the fact that Critz “ran to the Right” in a culturally conservative region, the Democrats have a 2-1 ratio in registration. That Critz won by only 9 points (large, but not 2-1 in the vote tally) shows some inroads were made into Democratic territory. So, a loss, but not without hope for November.


Obama’s Nanny Care Insults the American Spirit

February 25, 2010

That’s the title of a great article at Townhall by Michael Barone. Here’s an excerpt:

You are victims. You are helpless against the wiles of big corporations and insurance companies, and you need protection. You need the government to take over and do things you cannot do for yourself.

That is the thinking of what David Brooks calls “the educated class” that favors the Democrats’ health care bills. Members of this elite spout tales of woe of people denied coverage or care with the implication that there but for the grace of government go you. So sign on, and the government will take care of everything.

He then goes on to point out that Americans have traditionally rejected big government programs that provided no link between work and reward, because Americans see themselves as active agents, not dependent victims:

Bill Clinton recognized this when he signed welfare reform in 1996. Clinton worked his way up in Arkansas, a state with a highly unequal income distribution, with a few very rich families — the Waltons, Tysons, Stephenses — and many people with modest incomes. But polling shows that the Democrats’ health care plans are overwhelmingly unpopular in Arkansas, even more than nationally.

Barack Obama, who has chosen to live his adult life in university precincts, sees Arkansans and Americans generally as victims who need his help, people who would be better off dependent on government than on their own. Most American voters don’t want to see themselves that way and resent this condescension.

And that’s why this health care reform has been stalled: not because of Republican obstructionism, but because a vast and growing majority of Americans reject nationalized health care and don’t want the government as their caretaker.

Well-worth reading in full.